Until someone invents a real crystal ball, the only fortune-telling we will have access to is the kind that involves spending a lot of money to crunch a lot of numbers. The result is things like Forrester’s new report, with its predictions for the “age of the customer” in the coming year. Here is what the report has to say about the big next steps in leadership, customer experience, and technology.
Follow the Customer
The increasingly digital-centric market is making it so that even utility companies are launching customer experience initiatives. It is the age of the customer perhaps in the sense that customers just have so many ways to dump a service provider who is not up to snuff. Reportedly 40 percent of consumers have a “high willingness and ability to shift spend.” As such, leaders desperately want to connect better with the customer. CMOs will be tasked with both designing generally engaging customer experiences and also using analytics to make experiences even more personalized. This will be quite the undertaking, as most CMOs are either comfortable just with branding (probably the majority) or with analytics—rarely both.
CIOs will continue to be called up to bat in big ways too:
[CIOs] have too little political capital, technology is already present within marketing and the business lines, and tepid growth prospects will slow tech spending growth to 1.4%.
Those pressures are real, but in this moment when technology is in the spotlight, it begs these questions: If not now, when? If not for this reason, why else? And if not the CIO, who?
In 2017, more and more CIOs will take a lead position in shaping the digital strategy of firms to confront competitive risk and address the personal risk of being boxed in by a chief digital officer or chief data officer.
Ultimately, Forrester predicts filling skill gaps in traditional C-suite roles like CMO and CIO will take precedence over creating new, dedicated roles like CDO. Simpler is generally better, after all. And existing “transitional” roles like CDO are likely to get reabsorbed into traditional roles.
The Precipice of Tech
Forrester believes the next wave of technology innovation will come in ebbs and flows. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will continue to consist of trial-and-error experiments in 2017, but improving hardware and lowering costs will make it more accessible by the masses. AR and VR will likely really start to shine in 2018 and 2019. The Internet of Things will likewise increase in complexity in 2017, except in ways that make it more susceptible to security breaches.
Artificial intelligence (AI), the thing that makes everyone think of The Terminator, will receive a huge boost in investment, but its effects are not likely to be felt dramatically quite yet. Stay tuned on that front. And lastly, there is the cloud, where the story generally stays the same—the cloud is everywhere, and its popularity and applications increase.
These are the predictions that copious amounts of money spending and number crunching have coughed up this year. You can view the full report here (reg. req.): https://go.forrester.com/2017-predictions/